📸 A piece of Hanford site shielding window in hand
The Manhattan Project was the codename for the research and development effort which allowed the United States to rapidly develop a series of atomic breakthroughs during World War II, including the first industrial-scale plutonium production reactor and the first atomic bombs. This enormous project involved over one hundred thousand scientists, engineers, technicians, and construction workers at more than 30 sites across the United States, including well-known locations such as Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, Trinity, and Hanford.
Within this collection, you'll find pieces of the leaded glass shield windows installed at the T Plant (221-T) Plutonium Recovery Building, the first and largest of two production bismuth-phosphate chemical separations plants used to extract plutonium from fuel rods irradiated in the Hanford Site’s reactors. The Plutonium produced here was used in "the Gadget," the nuclear device detonated by Oppenheimer and his team during at the Trinity test on July 16, 1945.
📸 ENGINEERS WORKING IN THE 221-T PLANT
About the Material
Through these crystal clear windows, scientists at the Hanford Site in Washington produced the plutonium that would eventually be used in the world's first atomic bomb explosion: the Trinity nuclear test where Robert Oppenheimer would recall the words of the Bhagavad Gita, "Now I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." Later, the site would produce the plutonium used in the "Fat Man" atomic bomb.
Only a few complete shield windows still exist, with many having been broken or lost. The glass was sold during a government surplus auction in the late 1980s as part of the long (and continuing) decommissioning process. The yellow color of the glass is due to a high concentration of lead-oxide (up to 70%), which blocks blue and near-UV spectral frequencies, and also gives the glass its protective qualities.
Each piece is sold as-is and pricing is determined by the physical and visual weight of the fragments. The physical dimensions and shape will vary widely across all sizes. Pictures here are for demonstration purposes only, but rest assured they are all incredible.
The smallest fragments are available in our classic, glass-topped riker display cases. They come in two different sizes (A & B). Each specimen is enclosed inside an acrylic specimen jar.
Larger fragments (10-59 grams) ship in black display boxes similar to those used for jewelry. We assume that collectors will make their own displays to meet the individual dimensions of each piece.
Fragments over 60 grams do not ship with a display box as they are too large. However, they will be adequately protected for their journey.
Note: All fragments ship with a small information card that also serves as the certificate of authenticity.
Display case sizes and fragments from 10-59 grams are available here. You can see all currently available showcase pieces below
📸 HOLDING A 22G SPECIMEN. NOTE THE GLOVES. ALWAYS USE EXTREME CAUTION WHEN HANDLING THE GLASS AND WASH YOUR HANDS AFTER USE (AFTER TAKING OFF AND CAREFULLY DISPOSING OF YOUR GLOVES).
Handling the glass — is it radioactive?
There is no fear of radioactivity in this relic due to its high lead concentration. In fact, the windows were specially designed to prevent radiation, so scientists could use them as protection. That said, any prospective buyer will still want to be careful to use gloves, as too much lead exposure can be dangerous. This was just one of many dangers scientists working on the Manhattan Project faced on a daily basis.
The glass will be in a clear, plastic bag inside the box, but you should wear latex or nitrile gloves when handling the box as the glass is comprised of 70% lead oxide. While you have your gloves on avoid touching surfaces you might touch later with bare hands, like your smartphone. Wash your hands carefully after taking off the gloves. The main thing you are trying to avoid is ingesting any lead.
LEAD WARNING: The glass is not radioactive but it is comprised of lead-oxide. The glass should be handled with care and only while wearing gloves.
Lead is known to the State of California to cause cancer and birth defects or other reproductive harm. For more information go to www.P65Warnings.ca.gov.